DENR moves to save more people from coastal areas of Siargao following ‘Odette’
MANILA, Philippines — People who are living in the coastal areas of Siargao province, one of the provinces severely hit by Typhoon Odette, will no longer be allowed to return to their homes for the sake of their safety, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Tuesday.
During a taped briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte aired on Tuesday morning, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the department and the Siargao local government agreed that they would no longer allow residents to return to their homes in coastal areas to prevent a recurrence of houses damaged by strong storms.
“The people residing in the coastal areas will no longer be permitted to return, it’s for their safety,” Antiporda said.
“Sinisiguro natin na hindi na muling mangyari ito nangyaring pagwasak sa mga bahay nila dahil sa lakas ng bagyong ito,” he added
(We are making sure that this will not happen again in times of strong storms.)
The DENR will instead distribute parcels of land to “qualified tenured migrants” under the Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBRMA).
The department is urging the local government to form people’s organizations in different municipalities to fast-track the facilitation of PACBRMA.
Concerned mayors were advised to identify temporary resettlement areas until such time that PACBRMA will be awarded, Antiporda said.
Over 506,000 houses were partially and totally damaged by Typhoon Odette when it ravaged several areas in Visayas and Mindanao from Dec. 16 to 18, according to the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Eduardo del Rosario.
The agency estimates that the total number of partially and totally damaged houses could reach about 600,000, he added.
Del Rosario said 97,500 families affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette will receive P5,000 cash as part of the government’s shelter assistance.
Earlier, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered Antiporda, who heads the solid waste management and local government affairs of the DENR, to fly to the typhoon-devastated areas and assess what kind of assistance the government would deliver to people.
On board a helicopter, Antiporda delivered some of the basic necessities of the people of Siargao, like bottled drinking water, tents, food packs and medicines.
He even flew back to Metro Manila bringing in some of the stranded foreign tourists from Siargao to the airport for their return flight home.
The DENR official vowed to return to Siargao to bring more aid to the affected people.
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